The best way to spice up a dull, dark, soundless day.
Here’s how Edgar Allen Poe opens his short story “The Fall of the House of Usher”: “During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.” Although trade shows are hardly soundless, and I don’t navigate them on horseback, Poe evokes a bit of the feeling I get slogging through them. But the Usher exhibit didn’t seem all that melancholy when I stumbled on it at the 2007 Home Entertainment Show. In fact, hearing a pair of the Be-718s in action made me want to review them.
I asked the folks at Usher if their Be-718 monitor, sold for $2500/pair, would be available in odd-numbered surround configurations like five or seven. "What a great idea!" they enthused archly. Much hard work went into tuning the beryllium-oxide tweeter from which the speaker gets its name. It will ship soon with complementary center and sub. And at 87-88dB sensitivity, the system should run well with a good receiver.
Van Den Hul's HDMI Flat 180 is pleasingly plump, tomato red, and has a hinged connector that can take sharp turns. Every phat HDMI cable should be so agile. It's HDMI 1.4 compatible, and at $175 per meter, it ought to be.
Recent press reports that Jack Valenti passed away last week were not quite complete. This blog has learned that the man who likened the VCR to the Boston Strangler was, in fact, strangled by a VCR. Police say the videocassette recorder snuck into the bedroom of the former head of the Motion Picture Association of America as he slept. Spitting out a cassette, the VCR uncoiled the tape and wrapped it around the neck of the veteran lobbyist who once told Congress: "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone." The murder was captured by a security camera connected to, ironically, another VCR. Valenti began his career as a publicist and served in the administrations of presidents Kennedy and Johnson. At the MPAA he pioneered the rating system and cried wolf insistently enough to secure passage of the unbelievably fascistic Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which criminalizes anything and everything to do with home recording devices, including just looking at one. According to police, forensic evidence in the form of Super Avilyn particles may eventually tie the murder weapon to the rogue VCR. They also say the getaway car was driven by a TiVo.
Vegas is a brutal town and, like Stephen Mejias, we hate it. Among its few saving graces: Guests at a half-dozen elite hotels can travel to the convention center via monorail. It almost makes up for the obnoxious mini-bar fridge policy at one stop on the monorail, Harrah's: If you purchase your own drinks and leave them to chill, the management will confiscate them. A label inside the mini-bar fridge says so. Sure enough: it happened. Thanks Harrah's. Let us return the favor.
Transparent enclosures are a staple of product exhibits but in the case of the Velodyne DD-10 ($1999), this is the actual product! Good art is destiny in this cynical blogging game, so you don't get to see the arguably newsworthier MicroVee six-inch sub, with front-firing driver and passive radiators on the side, and 1000 watts of Class D power. Velodyne, ever versatile, also has in-wall and in-ceiling models. And it showed, yet again, the 1812 Digital Drive monster sub, one of the few subs with a crossover--from a 12-inch driver to an 8-inch one. We never tire of seeing and hearing its mighty cones vibrate.
Arguably one of the biggest tech stories of our lifetimes is the transformation of telephone companies into full-service providers of television, internet, and phone service. The latest news is that Verizon is making this transformation much faster than AT&T. Verizon has signed up 207,000 subscribers for its FiOS service while AT&T's U-verse lags behind at 10,000 (a figure the company is actually bragging about!). This isn't a direct competition because their service areas don't overlap. Verizon serves northeastern and mid-Atlantic states while AT&T dominates the south, the midwest, and part of the west coast. There is, however, a struggle between two visions: Verizon's, which brings fiber right to your doorstep, and AT&T's, a hybrid that uses old copper wiring for the last mile. Verizon is pressing its point with the announcement that FiOS network speeds will multiply by four to eight times with the implementation of GPON (gigabyte passive optical network) technology from Alcatel-Lucent. When I visited Verizon last year, I was told GPON would enable delivery of as many as three simultaneous HD signals by 2007-08.
Thinking of signing up for Verizon's FiOS fiber optic TV, internet, and phone service? The company now offers a new incentive: You can get the service on a month-to-month basis, with no contract and no termination fee.
Starting on July 1, all non-broadcast television providers are required under federal law to support the CableCARD standard and storebought cable boxes--with very few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Verizon.
Possibly the hottest story in home theater is the rollout of video-delivery services from the telcos. AT&T is just getting started while Verizon is going strong. Verizon has just announced that its bleeding-edge FiOS TV service will make its debut in Massapequa, New York and Woburn, Massachusetts. It's already available in parts of Texas, Florida, and Virginia. Eventually it will reach half the states in Verizon's service area with the addition of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington. FiOS TV is 100 percent fiber, piped right into your home, and it's just one facet of Verizon's longterm plan to upgrade all its copper lines (someday) to fiber optics. The cost is $34.95 per month for 180 channels. If you want to receive 20 HD channels, add $9.95 for the HD set-top box, bringing the total to $44.90. The triple-play package with TV, net access, and phone service comes to $104.85 (again, add $9.95 for HD). Keep a vigil at the external link below for availability in your area.